From now on we will be focusing on food and important nutrients to nourish your body and prevent weakness during Ramadan. For our body to be active during these long days of fasting, it is important to eat healthy protein – to avoid muscle breakdown. Protein foods are not just important for muscle building, but they are essential for wound healing, healthy hair, skin and nails, proper immune function, and to help you feel full for longer. Therefore it is very important to have the right kind of protein during Ramadan.
Depending on your age, gender, health conditions and genes – you may need between 3 – 5 servings of protein, but half of these should come from non-animal sources. Let’s talk about the different kinds of protein and the appropriate amount needed in Ramadan.
Pulses, Legumes and Beans – might be the cheapest in price but the richest jewels sitting in your cabinet right now. Pulses include dried beans, peas (yellow, green, marrowfat), lentils (green, red, french green), chickpeas (chana), lupins, fava beans, navy beans, pinto beans, small red beans, kidney beans, black beans, cranberry beans, lima beans, mung beans, pigeon Pea, black gram (urad dal), winged bean.
They are packed with important nutrients like fibre, and protein – they not only make you feel full quicker, but have no cholesterol and also helps to slow the release of sugar in blood – making it great for preventing heart conditions and diabetes (and also help managing these conditions). There is growing research supporting the role of pulses in the management of many other health conditions.
How much? Amounts to get, from the 3 – 5 servings of protein – you should aim to get at least 1 – 2 of these from a non-meat source. 1 serving of lentils, beans and legumes equals to ¾ cup (use a measuring cup to get the right amount). The more protein you can get from non-animal sources the better it is for overall health, disease prevention and weight management. Try to get different varieties of these pulses to get benefit from each of their different nutrients.
Worried about gas, bloating and flatulence from eating beans? The good news is that these symptoms are decreased when you eat them consistently. Another way to avoid it is by soaking them in water and then throwing this water out before cooking them. Make pulses a daily or at least weekly dish in your house.
Eggs – are “complete” protein sources that provide a good balances in all essential amino acids that our body needs. Egg yolk contains the rare vitamin D, the only other foods that also have vitamin D is milk and fish. It is safe to consume up to 1 egg per day or 7 eggs a week, but if you have high cholesterol or risk of heart disease or diabetes, then limit egg yolks to 2 or less per week.
Meats – Although you need protein during your fasts to keep you full of longer, the type of protein you get is important. We Muslims tend to eat too much red meats (beef, lamb, goat, etc.) – and although meat does provide us with many nutrients, it also has a lot of cholesterol and saturated fat. Too much can cause harm and lead to many of the lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes or cancers.
Then why is it permitted to eat meat and beef in Islam? According to Sheikh Humza Yusuf: “in the old days most Muslims used to eat meat – if they were wealthy, like middle class – once a week on Friday. If they were poor – on the Eids.”
How much? 1 serving of meat is about 75grams or ½ a cup, or the size of a deck of cards. Most women should keep their intake to 2 servings and men up to 3 servings. Try to seek more white meats – which should focus on fish, chicken, turkey or other poultry more. When you get red meats ask your butcher to remove all the visible fat and to give you the “leanest cuts”:
Lamb: Arm, Leg, Loin, Shank Half of the lamb leg, or 90% Lean Ground Lamb
Beef: Arm Roasts, Bottom Round Steaks, Chuck Shoulder Roasts, Eye Of Round, Leg Cuts, Round Tip, Tenderloin Steak, Top Loin, Top Round Steaks, Top Sirloin, 90% Lean Ground Beef.
What you can do today:
- Make a list of all your family’s favorite beans, legume and pulse recipes
- If you can’t find more than 2 unique pulses recipes, then start searching online for new recipes with other types of beans, legumes to try today – this may become your family’s new favorite!
- Look at your plate and see how much meat you eat – it should fill no more than quarter of your plate or less than your palm size.